André the Giant, was a French professional wrestler and actor. He most famously feuded with Hulk Hogan, culminating at WrestleMania III, and his best-remembered film role was that of Fezzik, the giant in The Princess Bride. His size was a result of gigantism caused by excess growth hormone, which later resulted in acromegaly. It also led to him being called “The Eighth Wonder of the World”
This short documentary aired on February 12, 1966, it’s apparently the earliest footage of Andre The Giant.
André Roussimoff was born in Grenoble, France, to Boris and Mariann Roussimoff, a couple of Bulgarian and Polish ancestry.His nickname growing up was “Dédé”. As a child, he displayed symptoms of his gigantism very early, reaching a height of 191 cm (6 ft 3 in) and a weight of 110 kg (240 lb) by the age of 12. Playwright Samuel Beckett, a neighbor who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, bought some land in 1953 near a hamlet around 60 km (40 mi) northeast of Paris.
At age 17, Roussimoff moved to Paris and was taught professional wrestling by a local promoter who recognized the earning potential of Roussimoff’s size. He trained at night and worked as a mover during the day to pay living expenses.Roussimoff was billed as “Géant Ferré”, a name based on the French folk hero Grand Ferré, and began wrestling in Paris and nearby areas. Canadian promoter and wrestler Frank Valois met Roussimoff in 1966, becoming his business manager and adviser. Roussimoff began making a name for himself wrestling in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
He made his Japanese debut in 1970, billed as “Monster Roussimoff”, wrestling for the International Wrestling Enterprise. Wrestling as both a singles and tag team competitor, he quickly was made the company’s tag team champion alongside Michael Nador. During his time in Japan, doctors first informed Roussimoff that he suffered from acromegaly.
Roussimoff next moved to Montréal, Québec, where he became an immediate success, regularly selling out the Montreal Forum.However, promoters eventually ran out of plausible opponents for him and, as the novelty of his size wore off, the gate receipts dwindled.Roussimoff was defeated by Adnan Al-Kaissie in Baghdad in 1971, and wrestled numerous times in 1972 for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA) as a special attraction until Valois appealed to Vince McMahon Sr., founder of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), for advice.McMahon suggested several changes. He felt Roussimoff should be portrayed as a large, immovable monster, and to enhance the perception of his size, McMahon discouraged Roussimoff from performing maneuvers such as dropkicks (although he was capable of performing such agile maneuvers before his health deteriorated in later life). He also began billing Roussimoff as “André the Giant” and set up a travel-intensive schedule, loaning him to wrestling associations around the world,to keep him from becoming overexposed in any area.Promoters had to guarantee André a certain amount of money as well as pay McMahon’s WWWF booking fee.
Roussimoff died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on the night of January 27, 1993, in a Paris hotel room, he was found by his chauffeur.